June 4, 2006
In honor of Wendy’s new book, yesterday I did something I very rarely do: I cooked. I chose one of the infamous 1970s Weight Watcher recipe cards and went shopping and by Saturday afternoon I had this:
It’s a Chilled Celery Log. I chose this recipe because it looked good in the picture–mmm, cream cheese. Except that’s not cream cheese, it’s mashed cauliflower, mostly. And the celery is cooked, so it’s not even crispy, which is really the only redeeming quality celery has in my opinion.
I made two changes to the recipe as written. I substituted black pepper for white because I had the black on hand and didn’t think I needed to buy a whole bottle of white just to get the 1/8 teaspoon I needed. I’ve got enough spices I don’t use in my cupboard already. I also used veggie bouillon instead of chicken, because I was going to Rooey’s for dinner and they’ve gone vegetarian and I had the crazy notion that I might bring the log with me to share.
Reading through the recipe, I didn’t see how it was going to work–there wasn’t anything in there to hold it together, unless mashed cauliflower had heretofore unknown to me glue-like properties. I struggled a little with the first step, mashing the cauliflower. I’d cooked it the way I would if I were going to eat it, still a little firm, which I found was not ideal for mashing. I put it back in the microwave and cooked it until it was quite overdone and soft, after which I had no problem smashing it. I hadn’t been able to find pimentos to chop myself, so I’d bought a jar of salad olives with minced pimento and fished what I needed out of there. Everything else went smoothly, and soon enough I was assembling my log and tying it with string before putting it in the refrigerator to chill.
When I took it back out, it wasn’t exactly a solid unit. I carefully cut the strings I’d tied around it per the recipe and it held together, but when I cut slices from it, they fell apart and I had to reassemble them for the portrait. In homage to the odd accessories on the original cards, I posed my log with a lamp made from an old telephone, a plastic Eskimo in a kayak, and a Splash Mountain toy log. Perfect.
And then, because I am the kind of dinner guest you might think twice about asking back, I covered the plate with plastic wrap and took it to Rooey and Dave’s. They were very good sports about it, cutting it up and serving it like it was real food instead of lame conceptual art. It didn’t taste that bad, actually. I still think some cream cheese would have improved it immensely, though.